National Olympic Team head coach Angus Eve will lead a 24-man squad to Tobago this weekend for a one-week training camp which forms part of the team’s build up for the final round of CONCACAF 2012 Olympic qualification.
The T&T team, under captain Sheldon Bateau will face the Guyana Senior Team on Thursday at the Dwight Yorke Stadium from 6pm. And Eve firmly believes that the current squad should be given every opportunity possible to engage in their qualification bid with as much support possible.
Eve is calling on the former national coaches and national players who have been calling for a total overhaul of the TTFF including the halting of the Olympic team’s program to show more moral support to ensure the players receive “equal opportunities”.
“I respect everyone’s opinion but I would prefer if we could shed some more positive light on this team of players. These same ex-players and coaches will not want the current players to go down the same road that they took in the past.
‘Gally’ Cummings has been crying out for equal opportunity and Brent (Sancho) claims he was blacklisted and this prevented them from furthering their careers. Well then why should they want these young men to be robbed off a chance of representing the country on the international stage and having a shot of bettering their careers,” Eve told TTFF Media.
“It’s not the right way to go by hoping FIFA steps in and this results in Trinidad and Tobago being asked to drop out of the international tournaments. We are talking about players who have worked very hard for over a year now to get this opportunity and if it is that the TTFF can facilitate this venture and the Ministry of Sport is supporting it, then by all means the program should go on.
I’m not saying this just because I am the coach of the team. Nothing is perfect and of course we want to see positive change but we should not take out two (Olympic team and U-17 Women’s team) of the shining lights in our football now because certain people just care about overhauling a TTFF organization,” he said.
“If this happens in terms of the programs ending, then we will have a next generation of players casting blame on the same past coaches and players for preventing them from playing international football. We’ve all been through this at some point but we had the chance to still pursue careers through football or by having the opportunity to play in a tournament,” added the ex-national captain.
“Let the boys at least get to play and if things can happen after that can mean betterment for Federation, then at least they would have been given an equal or fair opportunity.”
Eve mentioned that he’s already been holding talks with the players over the current situation.
“Obviously it’s been playing mentally on them because they’re working hard and all of a sudden they are faced with a situation where they are seeing people calling for them to stay away from the qualification. I’ve spoken to them and they understand the situation but they are also aware of the assurances that their campaign is still intact and the provisions will be there to ensure that they can focus on the football,” Eve said.
European-based defender Robert Primus and US-based defender Daneil Cyrus, both back from serious injuries which sidelined them for several months, have both been included in the squad to face Guyana.
T&T will open the final round of qualifiers versus Mexico on March 23 in Carson, California. They then face Panama (25th) and Honduras (27th). The top two teams from the group will advance to the semi-finals on March 31 in Kansas. The two finalists will advance to the London Olympics.